Is psychoanalysis right for me?

rightAlmost anyone suffering from psychological symptoms can benefit from some type of psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy. A consultation with a psychoanalyst would determine whether a person would benefit most from psychoanalysis or psychotherapy.



Listen to Dr. Hook’s audio on psychoanalysis:

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If a troubled person is capable of having and using insights and is emotionally sturdy enough to tolerate intense, difficult feelings that can arise, he or she is likely to be able to undertake and benefit from analysis. Some patients are more able to make use of psychotherapy to understand and change their lives.

Psychoanalysis typically consists of meeting three to five times per week and lying on a couch. Through an emotional reliving of one’s life narrative and conflicts, the intensity of treatment permits the deepest and longest lasting changes. Changes affect all aspects of life and leave the patient with the tools to maintain those changes.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy uses the same theoretical principles and methods of exploration but with less intensity, meeting one to three times per week face to face with the therapist. For some people this is a more manageable yet still highly effective method of treatment.

Psychoanalysis may be used in conjunction with other treatments such as psychopharmacology, couples counseling or family therapies.

Many studies demonstrate that psychotherapy with medication is more effective than medication alone. And some studies even show, for some problems, psychotherapy alone is more effective than medication. These findings underscore the human need to talk about issues in a safe and private environment.

Who is a Psychoanalyst?

Even before being trained as psychoanalysts under the auspices of the American Psychoanalytic Association, psychoanalysts have had rigorous and extensive clinical education either as psychiatrists (M.D.), psychologists (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) or social workers (M.S.W. or C.S.W.).

Candidates accepted for training at an accredited psychoanalytic institute also meet high ethical, psychological, and professional standards.

Training consists of classes in psychoanalytic theory and technique, a personal analysis, and the psychoanalysis of at least three patients under the close and extended supervision of experienced analysts. The total post-graduate training in psychoanalysis takes five years or more.

How to Find a Psychoanalyst

To find a psychoanalyst, you may contact the American Psychoanalytic Association, or consult the association’s On-Line Membership Roster at Fee structures vary, and financial assistance is often available. A number of training institutes and/or societies have clinics with sliding fee scales.

The American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) was founded in 1911. Membership includes about 3,500 individual analysts and also accredited training institutes and affiliate psychoanalytic societies throughout the United States.


PART 1: What Is Psychoanalysis?

View the PDF brochure “What is Psychoanalysis?” by the American Psychoanalytic Association

More information

For more information, contact the psychoanalytic institute or society nearest to you:
or contact: American Psychoanalytic Association
309 East 49th Street, New York, New York 10017

Phone: (212) 752-0450
Fax: (212) 593-0571
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This material was written by Gail M. Saltz, M.D., co-chair, Committee on Public Information.
All rights reserved